ninanevermore: (Christmas)
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I need to boycott any and all events on my side of the family when my stepsister will not be there. When she and her family show up, it is easy to forget that my family is not actually fun. They are good people, mind you, but the kind of good people that bore you to tears.

Let’s take, for example, a typical gathering involving me, my two brothers who do not consider me to be the living dead, and my stepbrother. Mostly, they will all stare the TV watching what ever kind of sport is in season or maybe Fox News (which my dad watches when there is not a game that he cares about being broadcasted). Any conversation that takes place will happen during the commercials, when my father will try to convince me that America is in a state of decline and it is mostly my fault because sometimes I vote for Democrats. I will smile and make a comment about the weather, and my dad will say that no, I need to listen to him because…and then the game will come back on and the conversation will have to be continued during the next commercial.

Hours go by, and the pattern repeats at commercial intervals until I feel I have done my time and I can make an excuse to leave. But when my stepsister is there, the TV may not even be on. Even if it were, you couldn’t hear it over the ruckus. )
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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When my cell phone rang this afternoon at about a quarter past three, I thought maybe the school was calling to confirm how my son would be getting home today. I could tell as soon as I answered that they wanted him picked up. Not that I could understand what was being said or who was saying it to me; my son was screaming pretty loud in the background. I heard the assistant principal trying to outline the series of events and behaviors that led to him being taken to the office, but it was difficult to make what she was saying.

“Can you put me on speaker phone and let me talk to him?” I asked.

“Okay. Hold on. [Sweet Pea], your mom’s on the phone. Can you talk to her?”

The line went silent, like someone had flipped a switch from hysterical to off.

Quiet After The Storm )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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To my dear niece,

I have not seen you since you were 11 years old, I think. It was around Christmas and your family was visiting your grandfather’s house. It was the last Christmas that y'all would visit that house when the rest of the family was there. I heard that your parents brought you and your siblings around a couple of years ago, after your grandfather got out of the hospital after being treated for the pneumonia that almost killed him, but it was done on a day when the rest of the family was around. I have missed half your life and am now a complete stranger to you.

You used to be a beautiful baby, and baby look at you now… )
ninanevermore: (Bite Me)
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My father called last night to ask how my son’s first day of Kindergarten went. After my son’s forcible expulsion from daycare a year and a half ago and the behavior problems that took him almost a year to resolve afterward, my dad worries. Since the last year hasn’t been too bad and did so well with his last babysitter and her kids, I was less worried.

“Is he close by?” my father asked.

“Yes, but he’s stuffing his face with pizza.”

“Oh. Well. I guess I don’t have to talk to him…”

“No, hold on.” I held the receiver to my son’s ear. “Tell your grandpa how your first day of school went.”

Stalking the Gingerbread Man )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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For the first time in a long time, I didn’t forget my father’s birthday this year. I have the internet to thank for this. My memory is not wired to remember birthdays. Actually, it seems wired to forget them. I remember my husband’s, but only sometimes. I remember my son’s, probably because I have a lot wrapped up in that day (his arrival was a life-changing event for me; most people’s birthdays are not). I am generally aware of what month the birth of people close to me occurred during, but I always forget the exact day. This last Saturday it occurred to me that my father’s birthday is in May, and I knew it falls around Mother’s Day because of the times I’ve visited the house to have my son deliver a Mother’s Day card to my father’s wife only to have her take me aside and tell me, “You know your father’s birthday was this last week.”

I really hate it when she does that.

Another birthday? Didn’t he just have one last year? )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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My father is an engineer, and everything he does is done according to a plan. Before he does anything, he considers all the factors and comes to the most logical and rational decision about how to proceed. Take speeding, for example: when driving on the freeway, my father drives 7 miles over the speed limit. In the Houston area, the police will generally not pull you over unless you are going 10 miles or more over the posted limit. As a result, most people drive a bit faster. If you drive the posted limit in Houston you incur the ill-will of your fellow commuters for doing so and increase the chances of an accident by inspiring them to tailgate you and pass you in unsafe circumstances. If you drive too much over it, you get a ticket. My father has figured out that by going exactly 7 miles faster than the law says he should, he gets where he wants to go a few seconds faster and he doesn’t get a ticket. He hasn’t been pulled over in over 30 years .

Recently, he told me he plans to die in 5 years. No sooner, no later. He's a guy who likes to have the blueprints in front of him before he starts a project. This final project will take the next half decade.

Two little reason to hang on. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
I handled the announcement well. We all did. No one got too emotional, no one panicked, and no one had to be consoled. Not me, and not my oldest or my youngest brother, either. We were told to keep quiet for now, because my middle brother – who is estranged from us siblings but no longer from our father – had not been told that our father has cancer.

It took me a full 24 hours to fall apart, right in the middle of congratulating myself on how well I was handling the news. I hate it when that happens.

We don’t want you kids to worry, but I guess you need to know. )
ninanevermore: (Christmas)
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I confess I'm one of those people who lugs around a lot of baggage in regard to Christmas. When you are a child, Christmas is all about fun and presents and singing and pretty lights. When you are an adult, it's about expenses and obligations and every memories of every dark thing that ever happened to you during this obligatorily "happy" time of year that still haunt you. Still, I think I'm getting better. I was able to decorate the Christmas tree without crying this year, and if that's not a sign of progress then I don't know what is.

Zombie Dads Are No Fun At Christmas )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Last week as I was preparing to leave to visit my father's lake house for a few days, someone told me they hoped I would "have a blast." I smiled politely and thanked them, because I knew they meant well. The truth is, that it is physically impossible to "have a blast" with my side of the family. I can have a blast with my husband's family easy enough: they are mostly of Scotch-Irish decent and like to drink, so boisterous merriment comes easy to them. My father, however, is a cranky old Swede. The best you can possibly hope to have in his company is "a nice time."

We had a nice time, for the most part, despite the weather and a few other things.

Off to a rough start )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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My kid brother Ron has always been weird, from the time he was small. My mother worried it was her fault. She was almost 39 when he was born and had scheduled a tubal ligation immediately after his birth, so he was induced in order to accommodate the surgeon's schedule. In addition to this, my mom's policy was to stop nursing her babies as soon as they got teeth and started to bite. Ron's teeth came in early, at 5 months old. She thought that taking him out of the womb and away from the breast before he was ready may have adversely affected him.

As a child, I was too guilt ridden to tell her that I was pretty sure it was my fault that Ron was weird, because when he was 4 and I was 5 I stood by and let him take an ass beating that I had coming and he didn't. Until Ron was in college and was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, I thought that perhaps this whooping had warped him beyond repair.

My mother died before she got the chance to learn that her youngest child was simply organically and physiologically strange, through no fault of her own. I was glad to be off the hook. Twenty five years after the whooping, I even apologized to Ron about the whooping. I hoped he didn't even remember it, but he did. Decency prevents me from typing out what he said I ought to have done to me for putting him through that, but lets just say he did not graciously accept my apology the way I hoped he would.

Little Girls Will Look You in The Eye and Lie )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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July 1st was the 20th anniversary of my first date with Jeff. Generally, I don't make a big deal of dating anniversaries, but since we were still "just dating" on the 10th anniversary of our first date (my wedding anniversary in September will be #9), I decided we should mark the occasion since it will be awhile before I get any other kind of 20th anniversary.

Only July 2nd I took the day off and we split a pizza for lunch. This might not sound like much of a celebration, but keep in mind we were both kind of broke when we met so the occasion we were celebrating involved going to a dollar movie together and drinking coffee at Denny's afterward for several hours. We went Dutch, each paying our own way. Getting dressed up to commemorate something like that seemed far fetched, so 20 years later we went Dutch on the celebratory pizza, as well. It would have been nice to catch a movie, but we needed to be home that afternoon to wait for the air-conditioner repairman (a week later, our parts are still on order and we haven't seen him again).

Celebrating a cheap date by going on a cheap date. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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I learned a long time ago that with most men, fear and anger look identical. In order to tell if the man is really angry or just terrified, you have to look at the context of his reaction to see what emotion is behind it. Some women never figure this one out, but I am in a unique position in that I have a medical condition that from time to time scares the bejeezus out of the men in my life. Before I was out of my teens, I knew that a man screaming, "For crying out loud, be careful!" is not angry at me for not being careful so much as he is afraid that I'm going to keel over on him and he's going to be helpless to stop it.

It's handy to know this. Instead of getting angry at them for getting angry, I know to reasure them until they calm down.

Women scream, men just shout. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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I read an article on the web today that says the secret to being happy is to be old, male and Republican.

With all these things going for him, why the hell is my Dad so cranky???

I guess if there weren't a glaring exception, it couldn't be a rule.


* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
ninanevermore: (Motherhood)
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I telephoned my father yesterday to see if I could score some free babysitting for the afternoon. Grandparents are good for that sort of thing. In fact, if I don't offer my father and his wife a chance to babysit at least every two weeks, I get a lecture. It had been 3 weeks, in this case, so I was surprised to hear hesitation on my father's part.

"We've had some changes around here," my dad said, "We've got a dog now."

Look what followed me home! )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Part of being a married couple is working around have two sides to your one family. For Thanksgiving Day this year, my husband's family called dibs, so we spent it with them. As a consolation prize, I told my father I would bring his grandson over the day after Thanksgiving to spend with him.

Two weeks ago when I asked if there were plans for Thanksgiving, my Dad answered, "Probably not." A few days before the big day, when he learned that my youngest brother, Ron, would not have to work (he is a corrections officer, and his 5-days on, 4-day off work schedule requires a calendar to keep track of when he can come around) and my oldest brother, Randy, would be home from Tennessee, he asked me what my plans were and if I wanted to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. During the first call, I think I did a good job of sounding regretful when I told him I had already made plans with my husband's family. I probably did a less convincing job of sounding excited when he called me back to let me know they would all put off Thanksgiving for 24 hours so I could be there. I had no choice but to resign myself to my fate and ask what I could bring to the meal.

Turkey with a side of stewed discontent )
ninanevermore: (Default)
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the book my father is writing. The working title is What's Destroying America, and he is putting a lot of time and effort into writing down all the things that are destroying America so that clueless Americans will realize the error of their ways. Americans such as myself.

Considering that my old man gets most of his facts from Fox News, I can guess what sort of things he is saying in his book.

You try to bring your kids up right, but sometimes they grow up to vote Democrat in spite of your best efforts. )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking that after mailing one final Christmas card last week, I'm pretty sure I'm done with Christmas for 2007. At least I am unless someone else who didn't a card complains, which is why I ended up mailing one more than two weeks after Christmas was over.

This last Christmas was a rushed affair, and I did my cards in a hurry. As I went through my address list, I got to the name of one of my father's neighbors and decided not to bother with them this year. Mrs. Isaacs is a little agoraphobic, and rarely ventures outside of her front yard; I haven't seen her in years. I can't tell you what Mr. Isaacs even looks like. I knew them as a child, but not very well. They are just the couple across the street and three houses down from my father's house. I couldn't recall if I even get a Christmas card back from them most years. I figured they wouldn't notice if they didn't get one from me this time around.

Mrs. Isaacs most certainly did notice, and she confronted my father about it as he took his daily walk past her house.

Back on the List )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the hip replacement surgery that my father is not having today, because they have to take care of the blockage they found to his heart, instead. My father growing old has taken me oddly by surprise. My father becoming frail is more than I can wrap my mind around.

Two months ago, he was walking 5 miles a day on a treadmill. Now he can barely walk at all. They said a new hip would make him almost as good as new, so he scheduled the surgery. During his pre-op exam, they found a problem with his heart though, so they need to stick a tiny camera on a stick and take a look around the artery to see what's in there and then treat him accordingly.

Half empty, and still evaporating )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Yesterday as I was driving into town to visit a friend, I found myself thinking about Georgia, who was my father's secretary when I was a kid, at least until he had to give her a promotion because my mother told him to. When I think of Georgia, I also think of Georgia's baby, who would be in her twenties by now, and the not-quite finished gift my family gave her when she was born.

Some Assembly Required )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about the box that arrived on my doorstep this past Saturday, completely unexpected. The return address was that of my Aunt Florence, the wife of my father's oldest brother, Wayne. Since my father is not that close to this brother, I don't know Florence all that well. Certainly not well enough for her to send me a presents.

It turned out not to be a present so much as a box of mementos. I learned from the 6-page letter in the box that she had recently cleaned out an old trunk, in which she found a framed photograph of my parents on their wedding day and the graduation program from my father's college graduation. She thought I would like to have them, and so she sent them to me.

My features before they were mine )

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